By Joseph Pratt
The Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre (PACT) recently announced that they have signed a lease and are getting a building of their own. The company is entering their fifth year of operation and has been floating from rehearsal space to rehearsal space the entire time, up to this point. By the time the curtain opens on their summer camp, the group will have their new home ready to go, which will be performed in the new space.
PACT is dedicated to enriching the lives of children by introducing them to quality art opportunities. PACT does this by providing a performing arts outlet for local children. The group produces two major shows a year, a summer camp and finds opportunities to perform and volunteer for many non-profits throughout the community. The company is headed by Executive Director Becky Lovins and Artistic Director Susan Foster.
Francesca Hartop owns the building PACT is leasing the space from, at 614 Third St., in Portsmouth. When Lovins was on the hunt for a home, Hartop offered the ground level of what will soon be Portsmouth STEM Academy. The two have also discussed ways of cooperating and working together with the STEM curriculum.
Lovins and Foster have had the opportunity to design the layout of the building to fit the needs to the theatre, which will include aspects such as costume shops, offices, rehearsal space and the like.
“I’m so excited,” Foster said. “Now that we have our own home, we can do more things. We can do plays, after school stuff, dance lessons, vocal lessons, acting lessons, you name it; we have an unlimited amount of possibilities now and it is beyond exciting. I’m just thrilled.”
Auditions for “A Year with Frog and Toad” will be July 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. A pre-registration is required, due to the restrictive rehearsal space and can be filled out at www.paac4kids.org. Foster is directing.
“We’ve been rehearsing for years at the Salvation Army. Mark Ferreira and the rest at the Army have all been fantastic, but as we’ve grown, and more and more students have expressed interest, our need for our own space has really shown.”
Haley Downey is a seasoned PACT performer, having been in around a dozen shows.
“I think theatre is a good way of expressing myself, and it has given me the support of my directors and my peers that really gets me through a lot.”
Downey was one of the students present, who got an early preview of their new home, while it is still under construction. Downey was pleased and is excited to see it finished.
“I feel like this is a good opportunity for us to have a place to bring home trophies and this is a place to call home and start a big family,” Downey said.
The space is primarily going to be used for pre-production services, such as rehearsals, costuming, set construction and the like, but they will also utilize the space for productions on various occasions.
“When we started this company five years ago, we didn’t know what kind of interest we would have,” Lovins said. “We knew we had kids who had been with Portsmouth Little theatre, but we didn’t have any data to back up what kind of participation we would get, but every show we have done has exceeded our expectations. We have had such growth that a place of our own is just essential to maintain what we are building.”
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 287, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.